You’d have thought that fictional aliens would be tired of invading Earth by now, given how many of them have succumbed to Homo Sapiens over the years.
Even if the odds are all in their favour they can’t seem to follow through with their threats of enslavement, be that because of a plucky hero, a reluctant engineer, or the common cold (talk about bad planning on that last one).
Likewise, you expect the odds would be stacked against N.O.V.A. being anything other than a re-run of Gameloft’s earlier action platformers, given how many of them the company has released over the past few years.
Happily, like its iOS big brother, N.O.V.A. manages to carve out its own identity on the platform with considerable success.Shoot to kill
As Karl Wardin, you’re brought back out of retirement to help Earth defeat a returning alien threat through the medium of the action-platformer (with a few vehicle sections thrown in for good measure).
Control is handled via the keypad, with the upper row jumping, the ‘8’ key sending Karl sliding across the floor (to dodge lasers), and ‘5’ entrusted with firing duties.
Firing relies on an auto-aim system, which works fantastically well, picking out the correct enemies and letting you concentrate on making sure your shield doesn’t get shot to pieces.Hide to heal
Your shield will, however, always get shot to pieces. Unlike some other titles like Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, N.O.V.A. is a tough game.
While there are the direction arrows placed around the levels to point you the right way (and handy button prompts for the less obvious sections) you may find your retry count for some levels sneaking into the double figures thanks to some tough platform sections and the super-quick enemy fire.
There is a recharging shield, but it’s so slow as to be negligible. A few more health drops to help with the slightly-too-fast combat parts would have helped ease newcomers to the genre in a little better.Jump for joy
Despite these difficulty spikes, N.O.V.A. manages to be one of Gameloft’s strongest mobile games for a very long time.
Levels feel less linear than they actually are thanks to obtainable skills like jumping smash and gravity hook that open up new areas; set-pieces are exciting, varied, and not overused throughout the hour and a half playtime; and the speed of the action can sometimes be breathtaking, even if the combat can seem a little unfair at times thanks to the unrelenting pace.
The graphics and sound, too, are of the highest quality, with explosions and enemies pouncing from the background and smashing through the foreground, adding spice to the smooth side-scrolling action.
N.O.V.A. may be a tough nut to crack, but it’s worth putting up with this for the resulting bombastic gameplay.